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Another day in ochre for Geraint Thomas (Sky).
No ill-effects after Milan-San Remo crash
Geraint Thomas elected to be on the start line on Wednesday for Team Sky at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with the Welshman initially supposed to be racing Gent-Wevelgem following Milan-San Remo last Sunday.
According to sports director Servais Knaven, Thomas has had no residual effects from a crash during La Primavera, lucky to escape serious injury in the atrocious conditions.
"'G' was not on the list beforehand and yesterday [Monday] he asked to ride tomorrow," Knaven told Cyclingnews on the eve of Flemish cycling week. "It's his choice so that means he is up for it."
What it doesn't mean however, according to Knaven, is that 2011 runner-up Thomas will be the designated leader on the road. Lining up alongside Thomas will be Mathew Hayman, who will be looking to ramp up his form, another proven solid performer on the 199.7km course with three top-10 performances since 2009.
"We have a really strong team so I think many riders can be up in the front tomorrow," admitted Knaven. "We'll see how the race develops. It's hard to... it's a one day race and it's not the Tour of Flanders. Other teams will have different tactics to what they have in Flanders... every single rider has the abilities to get a good result."
It's been three weeks since this classics group within Sky has raced, going down the path of training over racing at a 12-day high-altitude training camp in Tenerife prior to last weekend. In doing so, the team was largely shielded from the intense scrutiny and suspicion which was the result of solid performances at both Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice where the overall was won by Richie Porte. Despite the fact that Tenerife has a reputation for being a convenient escape from anti-doping officials, Knaven maintains that it's the training camps which are making all the difference for Sky.
"I think that the training camps are the reason why we have such a strong group," he said."The guys who are here in the classics, maybe there have been 10 days since December that they were not together. They know each other that well that with half a word they know what to do. It's not going to be long discussions about tactics or whatever, everybody knows what they can do and they'll always be honest with each other. That's the strength of the team."
Knaven, a classics specialist himself, having won Paris-Roubaix in 2001, believes that it's the mentality within the team which is setting them apart.
"It's not funny for all the people that are working in the team, working 24/7 to get the best results for the riders," he admitted.
"It is sometimes frustrating. Maybe for us people who have been in cycling a bit longer our skin is a bit thicker and used to it... But still, I don't think our riders are stronger than other riders, the level is the same but it's the way the race and the results they get. It's more about the team spirit that they have that makes our team so much better."